Written by Scott M B Gustafson. Photographed by Paul San Gemino.
The Crystal Cathedral is a church in Garden Grove, California designed by Phillip Johnson for Reverend Robert Schuler’s congregation. Originally named the Garden Grove Community Church, services were held at a drive-in movie theater from 1955 until 1961 when they moved into a new sanctuary designed by Richard Neutra. The new building still allowed for al-fresco worship; Schuler could simultaneously preach to parishioners indoors and to up to 500 cars in the parking lot. In 1980 the building by Johnson was completed. It is the largest glass building in the world and seats about 2,800 people. In the late 1990s Richard Meier was chosen to design a new visitor’s center called The International Center for Possibility Thinking. Construction was completed in 2003 and the three buildings define the boundaries of a 25,000 square foot plaza.
In 2010 Crystal Cathedral Ministries filed for bankruptcy and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange purchased the property. Schuler’s congregation is now meeting in a nearby Catholic church for their worship. The Crystal Cathedral was renamed Christ Cathedral by the Vatican in 2012.
Robert Schuler is the author of 37 books and is known for his televised Sunday morning services call the Hour of Power. A proponent of positive thinking, his ministry focused the positive messages of Christianity and avoided condemning people for their shortcomings. He wrote, “If you can dream it, you can do it!”
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Written and Photographed by Scott M B Gustafson
Studies in Dwelling
Ray and Charles Eames are celebrated designers known for their work across the disciplines of architecture, interior design, graphics, photography, and film. Their home in Pacific Palisades was built as a part of the Case Study Houses program organized by Arts & Architecture Magazine. It was the eighth home in the series that commissioned major architects of the time to design and build inexpensive and efficient model homes to meet the needs of a growing post war population. The program ran from 1945 to 1966. The Eames House was built in 1949 and they moved in on Christmas Eve.
When I moved to Los Angeles in 2004 I spent much of my free time visiting the buildings that were instrumental in defining the relaxed mode of indoor / outdoor living that the area is known for. Works by Frank Lloyd Wright, Richard Neutra, Rudolph Schindler, the Eames, Eero Saarinen, Oscar Niemeyer, Craig Ellwood and others were on the itinerary. (The fruit of that research can be seen in our Architecture Map.) Many of these buildings were familiar to me from my studies in college but nothing can replace seeing them and experiencing the sites in person. These photos were taken in September 2005.
The Museum on Wilshire Boulevard
Written and photographed by Scott M B Gustafson
Today I joined a group from a Los Angeles Design and Architecture Meetup at the Architecture and Design Museum. The occasion was an exhibition of furniture designed by Richard and Dion Neutra and manufactured in Germany by VS. Like many modern architects, the furniture was designed for individual buildings first and later developed as a product for retail sales. Some pieces in the collection on display came from the Lovell Health House and and Channel Heights Housing projects in Los Angeles.
During our visit someone in the group commented on how comfortable the furniture is. I recalled a joke I heard recently that “if the human hand had been designed by an architect, the fingers would all be the same length.” It’s funny because it plays off of the tendency of many architects to prioritize form and geometry over practicality and usefulness. The Neutra’s, like another hero of mine, Alvar Aalto, understood human comfort and psychology and knew that a building and it’s furnishings were not abstract sculptures but the sites were people lived their lives. Like a good host caring for their guests, this furniture was designed for the enjoyment of the sitter. It was not designed as a portable monument to the genius of its creator. This is a sentiment I find incredibly inspiring.
Boomerang Tango by Rolf Lieberknecht for VS
This short film was produced for the exhibition and is on display at the museum. Boomerang chairs provide the seating the theater.
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